Feeds

Living on the wrong side of the technology tracks

Digitally disenfranchised

High performance access to file storage

Computers, Freedom and Privacy Simon Davies, executive director of Privacy International, waved his hands in a general blessing before announcing global Big Brother awards for Choicepoint (most invasive company), Stewart Baker (worst public official), the UK (most heinous government), the International Civil Aeronautics Organisation (most appalling project), and the "Common Good" (lifetime menace).

Presenting as the Pope, Davies was attended by an entourage including Cardinal (and security expert) Peter G Neumann.

Baker, formerly general counsel to the NSA, Davies explained, was behind the worst US policies. At CFP he is best known for telling the 1994 conference that key escrow (in strong cryptography) was only opposed by those who couldn't go to Woodstock because they had to stay home to do their maths homework.

Today was a day of thinking about the people on the wrong end of the digital divide. Russell Roundpoint, the chief administrative officer for the Mohawk Council of Akwasasne, explained what it's like to live in a supposedly autonomous nation that is trisected by boundaries made by nations and states far younger than his.

The community is partly in Quebec, partly in Ontario – and to get from one to the other one must drive through a corner of New York state in the US. To get from home to work and back again each day, Roundpoint spends an unpredictable number of hours in a queue to answer the same questions about who he is and where he is going.

Or take Mara Keisling, director of the National Centre for Transgender Equity, who gets calls all the time from transgendered folk whose gender status puts their health, employment, ability to travel, and even lives at risk.

"You can be murdered easily in an emergency room without anybody knowing," she said, after detailing the story of a transgendered nurse who was taught in school how to treat men and women – but told "just let those freaks die" about the transgendered.

We had more statistics later: high-speed connections skew to urban users, creating a digital divide between rural and urban. Visual disabilities and illiteracy disenfranchise many more from the net – and the divide is increasing. People must have a say in the law if they are to be required to obey it – but today's laws are written in programming code.

Take, for example, digital rights management. A project at the University of Ottawa decided to test DRM products for their compliance with the Canadian privacy laws. And found widespread violations – users are never told who the third parties are to whom data is sent, what data is being collected, and cannot opt out. The most startling finding: the ebook reader that tracked almost every detail. ("While you're reading The Da Vinci Code, The Da Vinci Code is reading you," someone quipped.)

Over dinner, the discussion veered toward science fiction. What if machines come to own our human identities. Then what? They'll never be able to exercise human judgement, someone else argued. With humans increasingly being cut out of the decision loop, however, that may not matter. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.